The Challenge of Records Retention

“For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward.” – Jim Rohn

When I was cleaning out my workstation (for seismic reasons), I came across a curious collection – mostly fruits of my personal research, thanks to my inquisitive mind and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.  One of the items in the collection was this article – The Seven Deadly Sins of Records Retention – that I shared with my LinkedIn connections.  Although it was originally written in 2006, it is still surprisingly imperative to all organizations.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Records Retention | CSO Online.

These seven sins may not be deadly, but they could definitely result in some hefty fines and ultimately affect the bottom line of your organization.

  1. Not keeping your records straight from your backup. – Effective records management policy should make is easy to determine what information should be retained, without having to clean up storage locations in the future.
  2. Expecting the legal department to produce the rule of thumb for how long to retain records. – Very few record retention guidelines are driven by the legal and regulatory requirements, most are dictated by the business need.
  3. Assuming that records retention is someone else’s job. – Records management policies and guidelines are applicable to all employees.
  4. Not being able to respond quickly to a request. – Proper taxonomy and organization of information will save valuable attorney time in an event of discovery.
  5. Having a policy you can’t follow. – Not only should records retention schedule reflect the needs of the business unit, it should be simple enough for all employees to understand and apply.
  6. Failing to offer guidance on how to destroy old records. – Records should be destroyed in a way appropriate not only for their format, but also for the confidentiality level of the content.
  7. Telling people to delete information at a wrong time. – Legal holds are applicable to all records relevant to a legal suit, or even a possible suit.

As I found out in practice, it is extremely hard and time-consuming to apply Records Management guidelines to the records that your organization has already accumulated.  Thus, it is important that all policies and procedures are implemented meticulously and consistently going forward.  Let’s save all the sinning for Vegas.

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